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Toyota USA goes all chatty

Embedded Lexus phones sell you stuff

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Toyota USA has announced a bundle of new electronics for the Lexus and other Toyota models, including the ability for the company to send you voice mail based on your location and interests: no subscription required.

The new package is designed to compete with GM's OnStar service, with much of the same functionality. Both systems use an embedded mobile phone that can report accidents and track the vehicle if it's stolen, as well as calling roadside assistance in the event of a breakdown. Lexus owners will be able to get the Enform package which includes weather reports, restaurant locators and operator-assisted searches for any other business needed - and the unsolicited voice messages too.

The voice messages will be delivered to the car, and the driver will be alerted when they start up the car so they can listen while driving to whatever message Toyota feels would be most edifying. That could include, apparently, tips on using the vehicle's features, suggestions for a scenic drive or formation on local events based on the mark's customer's ZIP code.

Accusations of verbal spam are rejected by the company that promises to exhibit restraint. So that's OK then. We're sure they'll never be tempted to sell your location to advertisers eager to (literally) speak to you.

The voice mail comes without a subscription, the rest of the package is pre-installed in the car and activated on purchase with a one-year free trial with purchase of the car. ®

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